Last Saturday I was invited to the Cape Town pop up dinner by Wandile Mabaso and I was thrilled to have the opportunity. Firstly to meet the chef himself and then secondly to experience the meal prepared by him and his team. It was his final dinner in his #ByWandilesInvitation tour at a few locations around South Africa. Wandile has recently returned from Paris where he worked under Alain Ducasse at his two Michelin starred restaurant Le Meurice. Prior to that he lived and worked in the USA and spent four years in Manhattan gaining experience in top French restaurants. This is what he says about it
“Of all my experiences, my 4 years in New York City were the most valuable! I’ve had the opportunity to work at some of the finest French restaurants in Manhattan and trained under highly talented French chefs. This included my mentor, Chef Olivier Reginensi. Not only did I progress to be the Sous Chef of MaisonKayser Restaurant Group but furthermore got a taste of being in the business of food as a result of helping the group open 7 restaurants within 2 years.”
I popped in to meet Wandile the day before and get a sneak peek into the meal prep for this extraordinary dinner. None of the dishes had been made before by the chefs so each pop-up had a unique menu. A full three days of prep was required to get this meal off the ground. I saw the octopus being braised in raz al hanout spices and tasted the buttery scallop mousse that was destined to fill the salmon before being cooked sous vide for a couple of hours. The menu sounded so complex with combinations of ingredients I couldn’t quite imagine coming together. The chicken dish particularly appealed to me. A baby chicken cooked three ways with flavours in the dish that included chipotle, red pepper and truffle. My mind raced trying to think how these would come together on the palate and then when they did it was hugely inspiring.
Wandile is back in his hometown of Johannesburg and set to disrupt the culinary scene and bring contemporary French haute cuisine to our shores. After meeting him, the words: passion, dedication, focus and determination come to mind. I certainly will be keeping a close eye on this talented young chef who I feel is destined for the stars even though he seems very rooted in the craft of cooking and giving back to the community.
This was the menu on the night and you will see why I mean when I say its both inspiring and mind-boggling.
Beetroot ravioli of prawn, braised in a lemongrass Beetroot ravioli of prawn, braised in a lemongrass burre monte’.Cape octopus cooked in raz al hanout spice. Chickpea & cumin puree’. Swiss chard stems.Lemon confit.coconut & turmeric brioche in white chocolate. Thai curried prawn Jus. ENTREE’ Medallion of Norwegian salmon in a scallop mousse. Cauliflower puree smoked in
Medallion of Norwegian salmon in a scallop mousse.Cauliflower puree smoked in hay. Sturgeon caviar. Strawberry & rhubarb chutney. Phyllo textures with charcoal smoked butter.Watermelon radish.Clam & saffron broth.
2ND Young chicken cooked three ways, marinated in chipotle with parsley, garlic leaves & gras de volaille. Chicken & foie gras veloute’. Potato & black truffle puree’. Preserved Asian mushrooms. Red pepper chicken jus.
Lamb loin in carrot powder. Split pea puree’. Pineapple chutney. Ginger dressing. Summer micro vegetables. Artichoke textures. Malay lamb jus.
Cherry sculpture in a pistachio case with cherry curd & dark chocolate crumble.Cherry & citrus parfait. Passionfruit textures.Dried summer flowers. Dried hibiscus tea.
We were treated to a trumpet solo by Cape Town trumpeter Darren English which was special.